Highlighting #nicuawarenessmonth with Vicki Cockerill

I openly regard the birth of my eldest son as one of the worst times of my life. One where I felt unprepared, uneducated and unable to do anything to help or change a thing. This is why #nicuawarenessmonth is so important to me!

Being a NICU (Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit) Mum was one of the hardest things I have ever had to accept. Whilst we were in hospital we were guided, we followed the routine of the hospital, it was as if we were living in a different world.

A world where we ate every meal in the hospital canteen, where are hands were cracked from the hand sanitiser and we went to sleep with the machines and alarms ringing in our ears.

Going Home

We had that end goal, to get home. But then when you do finally get there you become lost.

People sympathising that it must have been hard, but it’s okay as you’re home now. Chapter over, move onto the next, put it behind you.

But, what people don’t talk about is how it really feels to be a NICU Mum or parent. You keep in all of your feelings until one day you feel like you will implode. You begin to sink into a world of depression, a ground hog day reliving the NICU over and over.

Anger

We don’t freely talk about how angry you are that this happened to you, how bitter you become for those that go in and don’t have to face the onslaught of NICU, coming home on the same day.

You feel as though you can’t talk about it, you’re being insensitive to others, you should consider yourselves lucky, it could have been worse.

That it is over now, it’s time to move on.

Pity

You shy away, you don’t want the pity, you want to be a normal parent. You hide away at home and relive it until you can’t bear it any longer.

Having a child in NICU for any length of time is one of the most traumatic times of your life. If someone you knew had gone through an accident or event would you encourage them to talk about it? To process it, or would you tell them to move on quickly?

With NICU, parents are just expected to get home and put that ‘tough time’ to bed.

People feel uncomfortable about talking about NICU. Whilst I understand not everyone will want to be as vocal as me, it is important we begin to talk openly about it and the effects it has on someone’s life, finances, relationships and more importantly their mental health. The majority of parents will develop Post Natal Depression or like me, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Media

Parenting magazines and websites have unrealistic images of birth and starts to motherhood. There is such a lack of images portraying life in NICU, there is no way or normalizing NICU despite 1 in 10 babies in the UK being admitted to NICU.

The first thing I really knew about NICU was standing outside the double doors waiting to go and find my newly born son in the high dependency room.

Normality

I didn’t know how I should deal with it, if it was even normal what I was feeling and I was lost. In a sea of unrealistic images on social media of how it should look like when you go in and give birth I felt as though I failed.

That is was my fault, that I did something wrong. Months on when I couldn’t move on I had nothing to refer to, no one openly talking about whether it was okay to feel like this or not.#nicuawarenessmonth

That’s when I knew I had to speak out, and this is why we need to talk about NICU.

September is #nicuawarenessmonth where we honour all those past and present NICU babies and their families as well as acknowledging the amazing job the NICU Nurses and Doctors do each and every day.

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog and co-founded the @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club and campaigns for NICU and MMH issues. You can contact her via her blog or social media;

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